The Philadelphia Inquirer
Social media stress the simple in designing new products
By John Timpane; Inquirer Staff Writer
July 13, 2011
Keep it simple . . .
We can't say stupid because the folks we're talking about here are Google, Facebook, Skype, and Microsoft.
Recent moves make it abundantly clear: The future of social media lies in making very complicated, advanced technology easy for the user.
In May, Microsoft (a shareholder in Facebook) said it would buy video-chatter Skype for $8.5 billion.
On June 28, Google rolled out Google+ (or Google Plus), its long-awaited counterpart to Facebook. One of its gaudy baubles, not available to all users yet: Hangout, a group video-chat feature.
On July 7, the empire struck back: Facebook announced that it had partnered with Skype to create a new video-chat feature for Facebook users.
...Zack Wiener, 21, a Swarthmore student who lives in Baltimore, says: "It's one of those things where I said, 'Well, if everyone's hopping on the bandwagon, I'll do it, too.' It's interesting, but still very much in the works."
...Both Wiener and Osborn speculate that Google will face some of the same privacy concerns Facebook has had to address. Osborn says, "I worry about Google having its hands on all my personal information."
Wiener says, "I have multiple modes of representing myself online, in terms of formality. Google+ is somewhere between Facebook and LinkedIn. My LinkedIn is like my resumé, my work experience, my academic interests, and Facebook is my social side. Google+ seems somewhere in the middle."
Facebook isn't done yet. Founder Mark Zuckerberg, asked about group video chats, says he's "ruling nothing out." He also has said little about Google+.
But he does have an account! Last week he was the most popular single person on Google+, with about 30,000 followers.
Susan Levine Joins Ramius As Managing Director And Head of Marketing & Product Distribution For Real Estate Funds
July 11, 2011
Ramius LLC, the global alternative investment management business of Cowen Group, Inc. ("Cowen") (NASDAQ: COWN), today announced that Susan Levine has joined the firm as a Managing Director and Head of Marketing & Product Distribution for the firm's real estate investment activities, primarily through the RCG Longview investment platform.
In this newly created role, Ms. Levine will be responsible for RCG Longview's marketing and distribution initiatives, strengthening institutional relationships and generating increased visibility for the Company's unique real estate platform and industry-leading real estate investment opportunities.
Ms. Levine brings a wealth of experience marketing real estate and alternative investments. Prior to joining Ramius, she was the Director of Business Development for Marshfield Associates, a Washington D.C.-based investment manager. Prior to this, Ms. Levine worked at Watershed Asset Management as both Chief Operating Officer and Managing Director of Investor Relations and Marketing. Before that, she co-founded Quince Hill Partners, a Washington D.C.-based broker dealer where she co-led the firm's efforts to raise capital for private investment funds, including a real estate fund sponsored by Ramius LLC.
Ms. Levine holds a B.A. with Distinction in Political Science from Swarthmore College and an M.B.A. in Finance from Columbia University's Graduate School of Business.
...Mr. Boxer noted, "We are confident that Susan's strong relationships and extensive experience in business development will enable us to leverage our achievements in the real estate investment marketplace over the last 10 years by broadening our reach into segments of the institutional investor community not already familiar with our proven capabilities."
Free Slurpees could yield big sales day
July 11, 2011
Free birthday Slurpees handed out at 7-Elevens could mean the Dallas-based convenience store chain rang up some big sales Monday, a data review indicates.
Officials at 7-Eleven say they expected to give away 5 million 7.11-ounce (get it?) Slurpees, about 1,000 per store, USA Today reported.
When the company handed out 4.5 million Slurpees on July 11, 2010, Slurpee sales for the day mushroomed 38 percent, said Nancy Smith, 7-Eleven's vice president of marketing, even though there was no limit imposed on the number of free drinks available to a customer.
"Slurpee drinkers are some of the most loyal fans we have," Smith told USA Today. "They come here to have fun."
"You get a taste of it," said Slurpee senior brand director Laura Gordon, "and you choose to have more."
And while they're in the stores, many Slurpee drinkers buy other stuff, data showed.
"Free is magic," said Barry Schwartz, professor of psychology at Swarthmore College. "If you offer something for free, people will gladly spend money to get it."
The Register-Herald (WV)
Ken Hechler writes book on 1969 mine safety act
By Mannix Porterfield
July 10, 2011
Ken Hechler was both horrified and outraged.
On a cold day in late autumn, long before first light, a series of fires and explosions shook the sprawling No. 9 mine at Farmington, entombing 78 miners of a Consolidation Coal Co. work crew.
The blast was felt in Fairmont, nearly a dozen miles away.
Twenty-one of the 99-member workforce managed to escape the inferno, but to this day, the cause of the deadly blast hasn't been pinpointed. Among the dead, 19 were never recovered.
"Nothing in my life ever moved me as deeply as my experience at Farmington," says the 95-year-old Hechler, a former West Virginia congressman and secretary of state.
On that ill-fated day, Nov. 20, 1968, he was in Point Pleasant, for the inspection of a span to replace the Silver Bridge, which had crumbled into the Ohio River a year earlier, plunging 46 people to their deaths in rush-hour traffic during the Christmas shopping season.
Farmington was a long haul from his congressional district, where he served 18 terms, but Hechler quickly discarded all plans for the day and headed for the stunned mining hamlet.
Later, he would call the No. 9 explosion an event "that galvanized me into action and really changed my entire life."
Hechler had long possessed a keen interest in the health and safety issues of coal miners, dating back to the early 1950s when he worked as an aide to President Harry Truman, a chapter in his life that resulted in a book.
...Hechler goes on at length, with much documentation, in chronicling his battles to gain approval of the 1969 Coal Mine Health and Safety Act, in his latest effort, The Fight for Coal Mine Health and Safety, alluding briefly to possible brushes with death at the hands of a corrupt union leader known to cozy up to coal operators.
His interest in the struggles of miners can be traced to his days as an undergraduate student at Swarthmore College, the author says, in the Great Depression, when he devoured everything written about the industry.
...Hechler's book is a comprehensive look back on his battles to get the new mine act approved, then signed by President Richard Nixon, amid rumors he might veto it.
One publication labeled Hechler "the Lone Ranger" of mine safety, citing his uphill battles to get his legislation enacted against all odds in the prevailing political climate.
"I wanted to correct the record," he says, explaining what motivated him to write the book.
"This was a very difficult fight to get that bill through the Congress in 1969. I had quite a struggle because I was not on the committee that was bringing out the legislation. I also had a fight with the UMWA, headed by the corrupt Tony Boyle. He resented the fact that I was taking the lead on mine safety and not giving enough credit to the UMW."
Hechler is certainly no stranger to the literary world.
An earlier work, titled The Bridge of Remagen, tapped into his World War II experiences as an Army major, as did The Hero of the Rhine -- The Karl Rimmerman Story. Another effort, Soldier of the Union, is an account of his grandfather, George Hechler, and great-uncle, John Hechler, in the 36th Ohio Volunteer Infantry during the Civil War.
The Philadelphia Inquirer
Her garden, her art, in a creative symbiosis
By Virginia A. Smith; Inquirer Staff Writer
July 8, 2011
Syd Carpenter recently discovered "some amazing, wonderful news. Granny was a gardener!"
Before you nod off, know that this revelation delighted Carpenter, a ceramic artist in West Mount Airy, because she's a gardener, too - quite an amazing and wonderful one, though not a food-grower like Granny.
...Carpenter's garden, up the street from Weavers Way Co-op, is not about physical sustenance. It's an expression of her artistic soul, a flourish of color, light and energy, movement, form and texture, perpetually changing and, like her sculpture, open to spontaneous interpretation by whoever happens upon it.
"It's right out there, engaging the community," she says.
...Explains Carpenter, a studio art professor at Swarthmore College who has been represented by the Sande Webster Gallery at 20th and Walnut Streets since 1981: "The garden itself is my art. The forms and processes are shared, and without the garden, my sculpture would not reflect . . . as much insight as it does now. It's a back-and-forth for me, and it's difficult to separate the two."
That delicate interplay underscored "Garden as Muse," a recent show at the Walton Arts Center in Fayetteville, Ark., which included several Carpenter pieces that were inspired by a 1992 book she discovered a few years ago - African-American Gardens and Yards in the Rural South (University of Tennessee Press).
...At the end of the book, Carpenter found her own muse.
...Carpenter chose the Georgia farm of Buddy and Rosena Burgess as the model for her eponymous sculpture of clay, wood, and graphite. It is undulating, rutted, and striated, like cultivated land, and it glows earthy brown, like the weathered faces of the farmers themselves.
"I was inspired by the designs, the mundane and the practical. I find them incredibly beautiful," says Carpenter, who imagined the mapped boxes, lines, and circles as three-dimensional forms.
Andrea Packard, director of the List Gallery at Swarthmore, who also curated the Arkansas show, said Carpenter's Southern-garden works were a major influence on the show's theme. The Burgess piece, in particular, she said, "looks at the different ways land can be articulated. It can be smooth, plowed, rough, and rugged. It can be mulched, piled, and fenced.
"Syd is harmonizing the multiple uses of land, the creating of boundaries, and the breaking of boundaries. Something is always in flux."
Those words - "in flux," especially - also describe Carpenter's garden, which has been reinvented many times since she and her husband, artist Steve Donegan, moved into their 1870 twin 18 years ago.
There is no lawn. The front, side, and back yards are tilled and mulched, the plants selected, in mindful fashion, for their unusual qualities.
..."I love color and drama, and I don't depend upon the flowers. I really select more for leaves," Carpenter says.
..."Like a work of art, you are not going to receive all its information in a first look," Carpenter says of her garden. "This thing . . . will reveal itself over time and therein lies its value."...